Around 13% of the world's cacao is produced in the Americas. However, the average productivity remains low (approximately 300-500 kg/ha) due to the effects of devastating crop diseases and limited incorporation of good agricultural practices.
The wealth of cacao genetic diversity available in the tropical region of the Americas is the basis for developing varieties that can withstand pests, diseases and the stress due to climatic changes as well as ensure high-quality and flavour cocoa. In order to effectively conserve and use this diversity, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the US Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS), the Costa Rica's Tropical Agricultural Research & Higher Education Center (CATIE), and Bioversity International on behalf of CacaoNet and the International Group for Genetic Improvement of Cocoa (INGENIC) announced the creation of the Americas Cacao Breeders Working Group.
The newly established Americas Cacao Breeders Group will bring together cacao breeders, scientists and industry members to collaborate and coordinate on the breeding and management of cacao genetic resources in the Americas. Similar groups have already been established in the regions of West Africa, Asia and the Pacific and are under the umbrella of the INGENIC network.
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Photo: Cocoa bean diversity, Nicaragua. Credit: Bioversity International/X. Scheldemann